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Brennan Center Files Amicus in Citizens United Case

Media activists, journalists and bloggers urge the Supreme Court to uphold regulations on the flow of corporate money into federal elections

August 1, 2009

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2009

Contact:         Jeanine Plant-Chirlin, 212-998-6289
                       Susan Lehman, 212-998-6318

Media activists, journalists and bloggers urge the Supreme Court to uphold regulations on the flow of corporate money into federal elections

New York
-- Today, the Brennan Center for Justice - acting as counsel for prominent media groups and professionals - submitted an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The Brennan Center's amicus brief - filed on behalf of the Center for Independent Media, blogger Zack Exley, the Editorial Board of political blog Calitics.com, Laura McGann of the Washington Independent, and New York technology and art center Eyebeam -- demonstrates that current restrictions on corporate expenditures sufficiently protects new media journalists, bloggers and activists, as well as those who are part of traditional media institutions.

"We are confident that the specific protections in the current law properly balances the important first amendment concerns with the laudable goal of controlling the flow of corporate money," says the Editorial Board of Calitics.com, an influential political blog.

The Center also urged the Court to rule on the case narrowly and not overturn 60 years of precedent limiting corporate spending in elections.

"This moment in American history, when our economic and political order continue to reel from unregulated corporate conduct, seems an odd time to permit greater corporate influence over public life," says Monica Youn, lead author of the brief and counsel at the Center.

"If the Court allows increased corporate political spending, it could effectively end the promising 'small donor revolution' that was sparked during the 2008 election and involved increased public engagement on the part of millions of Americans," Youn continues.

In recent years, corporate spending reached record heights. Outside groups - including 501(c) groups and so-called Section 527 groups -- spent well over $400 million in both the 2004 and 2008 elections.

The briefs were filed in response to the Supreme Court's request for a new round of arguments on the question of whether the Court should overturn its landmark campaign finance rulings in two key cases on regulating the role of corporate money in federal elections.  An adverse Court decision would roll back 60 years of decisions upholding limits on corporate spending in elections. More than 22 amicus briefs were filed.

These rulings provide the legal basis for the government's regulation of corporate treasury spending on advertisements in federal and state elections. If the Court overturns these cases, nearly unlimited sums corporate money would pour into federal elections and in elections in 22 states. A decision to overrule Austin or McConnell would open the floodgates of corporate money into federal elections; it would also end restrictions on corporate expenditures in elections that, in their earliest incarnation, date back to the Tillman Act which was enacted at the close of the Gilded Age in 1907.

For more information or to set up an interview with Monica Youn, please contact Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at 212-998-6289 or at jeanine.plant-chirlin@nyu.edu